Quick Tips for Creating Social Media Graphics Like a Designer

The online marketing success of your business depends greatly on your social media efforts. As you know, social media is a purely visual platform. The way in which your viewers and customers perceive your message on the internet depends greatly on the graphics you share on social media.

Here at Visme, we want to make it easier for you. Our online graphics editor offers templates for all social media platforms and also a blank canvas so you can create your graphic from scratch, in the size of your liking.

We understand that sometimes your social media graphics don’t get as much traction as you’d like, even when using a template, so we’ve compiled an awesome list of quick but valuable tips to help you out, even if you aren’t using Visme (gasp!).

How to Choose the Best Images


A blurry image is a huge no-no.

  • Always source images from dependable sites.
  • Download the highest resolution possible.
  • A great option is to hire a photographer to take your photos.
  • If using screenshots, use an extension like Nimbus.
  • Analyze the images in terms of composition to see if they will work for your purposes.
  • Analyze if the images can be cropped and changed to better suit you final graphic.


The way that elements appear in an image should have a visually appealing composition.

  • Use grids like the rule of thirds or the golden mean to check the composition.
  • Use symmetry to center important elements. You can crop the image for better results.
  • Make sure elements are not cut off awkwardly.


Make sure the photo will look good on the social media platform you want it for.

  • Square is always a great choice because it will work for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Headers on Facebook and Twitter are wide rectangles.
  • For Pinterest, graphics MUST be vertical.
  • Follow Sprout Social’s size guidelines for constantly updated posting sizes.


When your images carry your brand colors, they will become more memorable to your audience and help you establish a consistent brand identity.

  • Search for images by color on Kaboompics.
  • If using a photographer, use your brand colors in the elements and wardrobe.
  • Edit the “tint” of the photo to match your brand.


Images must represent your brand’s story.

  • Choose images that have an atmosphere that matches your brand.
  • If taking your own photos, create scenes that portray (and captivate) your ideal client.
  • Consider the temperature of the photograph. For example: winter clothes in the snow and not at the beach.
  • Take into account the gender of your clients and choose your subjects accordingly.

Legal Issues

Nobody wants to get sued by photographers.

  • Make sure you are sourcing photos from legal sources that give a commercial license.
  • Never use photos from Google Images unless you are sure it comes from a legal source.
  • Never use photos from blogs without permission.
  • Never use photos from online magazines without permission.
  • Pay your photographer for legal rights of the images they took for you.

Using Illustrations

You can also use illustrations instead of photos.

  • All the tips for images and photography also apply for illustrations.
  • A designer or artist can create personalized illustrations for your brand.
  • Try to always use a vector file for the best possible quality.

How to Choose the Right Fonts

Does it match your message?

The chosen font should match your intended message.

  • Learn a little about typography to know why some fonts work and other don’t.
  • For example: An antique serif font will not fit a message geared toward a pre-teen female.
  • Be mindful that the fonts you choose are not sending subliminal messages that contradict your message.

Does it match your brand?

The font style should be representative of your brand.

  • Typography and fonts usually have a gender reference. Make sure your font and your brand are of the same gender, or both gender-neutral.
  • The size and weight of the font should match your brand. If your brand is delicate, the font should be too.
  • Think of the font as a person with a personality. If someone reads a message written in a certain font that doesn’t include your brand name, will they still be able to recognize your brand?

Is it legible?

Words must be legible but not overwhelming.

  • Social media is no place for “fine print.”
  • If you need to have a lot of text, use a sans serif font.
  • Headers should be big enough so that they can be read quickly.
  • Test the visual results on both PC and mobile.

Don’t overdo it.

Too many fonts will make your graphic look unprofessional.

  • Use at most three fonts, but preferably two.
  • Read up about font pairing to make sure you are doing it right.
  • Always keep it balanced.

How to Pair Images with Text

Keep it balanced.

The images and text should feel like they are a family.

  • Read the personality of the image and match it with a font that has a similar personality.
  • Sometimes opposites look great together. Just make sure it feels balanced.
  • Which is more important: the text or the image? Balance accordingly.

Choose the color of the text.

The color of the text should make it legible and easy on the eyes.

  • If the background image is dark, use light-colored text.
  • If the background is light, use dark-colored text.
  • You can extract colors from the image and apply them to your text.

Choose the size of the text.

The text can complement the image or cover it completely.

  • The text should fit in the empty spaces of the image, so size it accordingly.
  • Do not cover important parts of the image.
  • If the image is only a complement, the text can cover the whole thing.
  • Try not to cover faces with text, unless this is part of your message.

Place text over an image.

Some graphics look great with the text over the image.

  • The best images for this technique are landscapes.
  • If there are people, don’t cover their faces.
  • Use strong fonts so that they stand out from the image background.
  • This technique works best with short text with few words.
  • Apply design techniques like using transparency and shapes for other effects.

How to Use a Background Instead of an Image

Color Backgrounds

Use a color background for a clean and minimalist look.

  • The color of the background and the color of the font should have a good visual balance.
  • The background needs to be second in importance to the text in color and in texture.
  • The color of the text and the color of the background should not compete with each other.

Graphic Backgrounds

Graphic backgrounds are a great choice because they can be manipulated to accommodate the text.

  • Use graphic backgrounds that have an empty space where you can place the text.
  • Use graphic shapes in the background to complement the text.
  • Balance the colors and the text so that the text doesn’t seem like just another shape.
  • Consider the shapes in the background to match your message.

How to Establish a Focal Point

Establish the importance of elements.

Before the editing stage, make a note of the most important aspects of your graphic.

  • Make sure your message will be well established visually.
  • Analyze the balance that the elements will have in your graphic.
  • Consider a minimalist approach and incorporate only what you really need.

Create visual hierarchy.

Every graphic needs a clear hierarchy of elements in order to establish a focal point.

  • The viewer always needs direction. Place the elements in a way that will be easy to read.
  • Headers should always be larger than body text.
  • Your logo should be obvious but not so much that it becomes the focal point.
  • Use bold or italic font styles to give importance to certain words.

Balance elements.

Every edit applied to the graphic must accomplish a visual balance.

  • When elements are not in balance, they trigger visual rejection in the viewer.
  • Balance applies to every element: images, typography, colors and shapes.
  • Balance can be accomplished by taking a break from the design and coming back to it with fresh eyes.
  • If you are unsure about the balance in your graphic, ask a colleague to look at it and tell you how they feel about it visually.

Create contrast.

Contrast is the visual difference between elements.

  • A light-and-dark contrast works not only with black and white but with all colors.
  • A contrast between textures can be really interesting. For example, you can use a highly patterned background with a soft texture over it.
  • The size of elements can also imply contrast, but the difference must be noticeable for it to work.

Provide direction.

Direction can be implied with lines, shapes and composition.

  • Use leading lines to direct the viewer’s eyes to the focal point.
  • Images in combination with certain graphic elements can also imply direction.
  • Shapes like arrows and triangles are common tools you can use to suggest direction.

Use negative space.

White space is not the same as empty space.

  • White space is a kind of empty space, but empty space can also be an empty wall or a section of sky.
  • Empty space gives breathing room to a graphic.
  • Empty space is great for adding text.

Align elements.

Aligning header text to paragraphs will help you create balance in a graphic.

  • When using center alignment for text, make sure its aligned to the center of the graphic.
  • Use grids to help align the edges.
  • Take advantage of the snap-to-grid tool to align elements.

Pay attention to the space between elements.

The spacing between elements also needs to be balanced.

  • Adjust the line spacing if the descenders and ascenders of letters are touching. For example, if the tail of the “g” and the top of the “l” are touching.
  • The space between the header and text should be proportionately wider than the space between sentences inside a paragraph.
  • Your logo should be spaced from the edges of the graphic at least a third of its own width.

Pay attention to the margins.

Margins are the space between the text and the edge of the graphic.

  • To keep a good balance, keep the margins the same on four sides.
  • Try to make the margins not too wide and not too thin.
  • Sometimes it’s a good idea to use a box outline in order to make the margins neat.

Apply a bleed-off-the-edge effect.

Making text flush to the edge or bleed off the edges can create an interesting effect.

  • This effect works best with large fonts in capital letters.
  • When bleeding off the edge, make sure it’s still legible.
  • Don’t apply this effect to all the text, only some of it.

How to Use Design Techniques to Create Visual Effects

Make images transparent.

Using transparency on images will create an easier background to work with.

  • The opacity slider ranges from 0 to 100%, with zero being completely transparent and 100% having no transparency at all.
  • If the image is not the main focal point, you can adjust the opacity to between 25% and 60%.
  • When the text and image are competing with each other, try making the image more transparent by setting the opacity to around 80%.

Make text transparent.

Using transparency on text can create subtle differences in your graphics.

  • The opacity slider for text works the same way as for images or illustrations.
  • When you apply transparency to text, part of the image behind it will become noticeable through the letters.
  • Make sure that your text is still legible after applying the effect.

Use collage techniques in your graphics.

Collage is a technique in which photographs, illustrations and shapes are placed in a common space, overlapping each other to resemble a handmade effect.

  • Images can be overlapped from the corners, leaving empty spaces for text.
  • Images can be separated with a strip of color or illustrative banner.
  • Mix photographs, illustrations and icons for a more complex effect.

Use shapes with text.

Shapes can be used in a collage to separate photos or as a frame to hold text.

  • Use a rectangle behind your text. Transparency can also be applied to this rectangle.
  • Separate sections of the graphic with lines or shapes.
  • Create a colored border.
  • Use transparent shapes to create visual effects.
  • Shapes can be aligned or given a freestyle look. Just keep it balanced.

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Your Turn

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The original version of this post first appeared on Visme’s Visual Learning Center.

I’m helping the world communicate Visually. #VisualContent Master, Designer, #Entrepreneur, #startups. Founder: Visme & HindSite Interactive